Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante says it took him time before he could become an established player.
Kante, who narrated his gradual rise from playing in the sixth division of France with Boulogne as late as 19 years of age, before being noticed by a professional club.
The French international was at his usual best mettle in France’s 1-0 victory over Germany in Euro 2020 fixture.
He was also part of the Chelsea squad that won this year’s UEFA Champions League after overcoming Man City 1-0 in the final.
However, in an interview with chelseafc.com, Kante recounts his early days as a footballer.
“It took time for me to establish myself as a professional footballer. Even when I was 12, 14, 16, I was going to trials to try to get into the academies of professional teams but the answer was always the same.
“‘We already have players in the academy like N’Golo, or better, so we don’t need to take him.’
“When I heard them say this, I always tried to be honest with myself. Between the ages of 10 and 19, I was playing district football in a suburb of Paris called Suresnes, and above that there was regional and national levels, so I was aware I was playing at a lower level than the other boys.
“I knew I was one of the best players at my local team because I was always playing with the older boys, but I thought maybe I wasn’t ready at that time, maybe I needed to improve more. When I went for trials, I was looking at the players around me and, technically, tactically, they were better than the level I was used to playing at. I always tried to think about this when I didn’t get in after the trials. I told myself to keep working because maybe next time it would be the right time for me.
“I felt maybe I just needed the experience and that if I had the opportunity to play at that level for even one year I would reach the same level, but a one-day or one-week trial was not enough for me to do that.
Kante joined Caen from Boulogne in 2013
“In the end, my chance came when I went to Boulogne at 19 and I had the opportunity to play in the second team, in the sixth division in France.”
Kante also stated: “I became a professional late and I’ve won many things that I couldn’t have expected, but behind my years as a professional there was a lot of work, a lot of successes and a lot of failures also. They helped me to grow as a player and a person. But I know I have many more years to play and I hope to keep being successful and to keep achieving beautiful things.”